“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” ~ Brené Brown

Yes!!!  This!!!  Connectedness!!!  I need this, you need this, the world needs this!!!  

Just imagine a world where we all felt connected to ourselves and to others.  Really… pause for a moment and imagine how your life and the world would be if we all had a deep sense of love and belonging.  Can you picture it!?!  What do you see?

What I see is a world where people feel safe to say that they are afraid and need help. What I see is a world where interdependence is everywhere and no one feels alone.  What I see is a world where we meet people where they are without needing them to be different.  What I see is a world where we know and understand that our differences are what bring beauty and color and variety to life, and more than tolerate differences, we embrace them.  Yes, you may say I’m a dreamer, but that is what I see.

One of the things I absolutely love about the Wholistic Woman Retreats Community is that we strive to create a safe space where you will feel connected.  We hold monthly events and encourage membership in our community in hopes that the women who come on a regular basis will get to know one another and will feel like they belong.  

Emma Seppälä, Ph.D, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and the author of The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016)  notes one landmark study that showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.  Who knew!?!

She goes on to report that research around strong social connection shows that it:

  • leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity
  • strengthens your immune system
  • helps you recover from disease faster
  • lowers levels of anxiety and depression

Moreover, studies also show that people who feel connected to others have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. In other words, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.

If you are a woman in the Frederick Area and are looking for more connectedness, we might be exactly what you are looking for.  Check out this impromptu video I made about our upcoming August 2019 event being held in partnership with The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce’s  Women in Business Committee…

Click Here to watch the video

Here are the 2 links you will need if you are interested in joining us for this event:

In the meantime, there are lots of ways you can connect with us so please spend some time perusing our website if you’d like more information 🙂

And please, share your thoughts with us!  We love learning from you!  


~ Laura  

Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in both their personal and professional lives.  Laura can be reached via email at or feel free to visit her website

Shades of Gray

Shades of Gray

If things aren’t perfect, they must be horrible right?

If you’re not a fascinating person, then you must be boring?

I’ll either succeed, or I’ll fail.

You will love me or hate me.

Are you a person who sees things in extremes?

Good or bad,

Perfect or useless,

Right or wrong,

Moral or immoral.

YIKES . . . what a tough way to live!

If you are someone who looks at things in absolutes or falls victim to polarized black and white thinking, then this blog is for you.

All or nothing thinking is a thought pattern that can generate a “flight, fight, or freeze” response to danger. And, although much is going on in our world today that is concerning, we often fall prey to distorted thinking, better known as “stinking thinking.”

Small children just learning how to speak and organize thoughts think in black and white terms. This is normal and is called primitive thinking.

As adults, we are prone to primitive thinking during moments of crisis and stress. When an adult starts to feel overwhelmed by emotions, they can regress back to the way they saw the world as a child.

Black and white thinking is seeing the world only in extremes, and it skews your perspective. This kind of thinking can make you feel stressed, confused, overwhelmed, or just plain fed up. It can exacerbate depression, marital conflict, anxiety, and a whole host of other problems. By thinking this way, we miss the reality that things rarely are one way or another but usually somewhere in-between; in other words, there are many Shades of Gray.

Just ask Crayola!

Can you see yourself in any of the next three scenarios?

Becky is a middle-aged married woman who is continuously feeling depressed. She says she NEVER feels happy anymore and that she is ALWAYS disappointed with those around her and herself.

Susan, who attends Weight Watchers regularly, just ate a delicious piece of chocolate crème pie and told herself, “I guess I just blew my diet today, I might as well eat another piece.” All or nothing thinking can turn a single bite into a full-blown binge.

Joseph, an aspiring actor who supports himself currently as a carpenter, despite good reviews in several plays, reports feeling overwhelming anxiety whenever he has to audition for a role. Joseph ALWAYS prepares thoroughly but becomes increasingly anxious for days before the audition. He says he NEVER does well at auditions and would NEVER overcome this anxiety. He believes he will NEVER make it in the business and ALWAYS will just be a carpenter.

Joseph eventually realized that his black and white thinking became a self-fulfilling prophecy. He learned how to view his situation how it was, a mix of good things and room for improvements. With a newfound appreciation for the many shades of gray, Joseph is now happier, more realistic, less anxious, and successful in his new career.

You too can learn to recognize faulty thinking and make a choice to challenge it in favor of healthier living.

Recognize there may be more than one way to interpret any given situation. By doing so, you can avoid jumping to wrong and possibly harmful conclusions. When looking at a situation, your perspective follows your current line of thought, which is NOT necessarily the reality of a situation.

Stop using language that exaggerates. Words like:


Replace negative words with positives ones

Can’t Can
Problem Challenge or Possibility
Always Often
Never Seldom
Bad Unwise
Faults Differences
Mistakes Valuable Lessons

There is precious little in this world that is genuinely black and white. Give yourself and those you love a break and discover the many beautiful shades of gray. When you learn to recognize the spectrum of gray in the difficult experiences you encounter in life, you will be better equipped to explore ways to improve your situation and come out on top.

And lastly, as an Empowerment Coach,

“Don’t believe everything you think.”


Today’s author: Kat Middleton is a professional certified coach and the founder and CEO of Wholehearted Concepts, LLC. Kat is a Professional Energy Empowerment and Self-Acceptance Coach who specializes in helping clients personally and professionally that struggle with inner doubt, perfectionism and being way too hard on themselves. She is available for private one-on-one coaching as well as group workshops, seminars, and speaking events. Learn more about her at her website:

Be Compassionate

One of the things I like to do before going to bed is to make sure there are no dishes in the sink. I like coming down in the morning to start my day feeling calm, peaceful and curious about what the new day will bring. What I know to be true about myself and how I operate best in the world, is that the stuff around me affects my energy…. when my space feels peaceful, I feel peaceful. A sink full of dirty dishes feels messy and chaotic to me so that is why I make a point, most nights, to clean it up before I retire for the evening. The problem is that I am almost always the first person to go to bed and sometimes more dishes accumulate. This was the case last night.

My daughter is home from college for Easter, and she and her boyfriend were up several hours after me.  This morning the sink wasn’t as neat and tidy as I had left it. One of the items in the sink was my favorite mug. You know the one… it’s the one that is just the right size, that fits in your hands perfectly and that when you drink out of it, you just can’t help but feel happy. I was up early this morning to get ready for my exercise class. When I came downstairs, I saw the mug in the sink. I knew that when I returned home, after the workout, I would want to use it to enjoy a nice cup of tea, so instead of putting it in the dishwasher, I began to hand wash it. Now, mind you, it is about 4:45 am and although I am a morning person by nature, I’m not fully awake yet. I’m not sure exactly what happened but suffice it to say that the mug slipped from my hand and broke 🙁

What happened next, you might be wondering!?!  

Well, I picked the pieces up, put them in the trash, and headed out the door without any negative thoughts or feelings. I don’t know about you, but for me, this felt like a little miracle, because not that many years ago, what happened next would have looked a lot different.

Here’s how the Laura from a few years would have reacted…

There would have been a significant amount of criticism directed at both myself, as well as my daughter. My inner critic would have had a field day. My self-talk would have been something like, “You are so clumsy! Why aren’t you more careful?!? If you would just slow down a little bit, things like this wouldn’t happen!” Blah, blah, blah….

But it doesn’t stop there! When something goes wrong, our egos want to project any negative thoughts and feelings away from ourselves and onto someone or something else, so my daughter would have been part of my inner critics rant as well. My inner dialog around her may have sounded something like this… “If only she hadn’t left the mug in the sink, this wouldn’t have happened! She knows I don’t like leaving dishes in the sink overnight! It’s like she doesn’t even care about what matters to me!” Blah, blah, blah…

Self-Criticism and blame would have disrupted my calm, peaceful and curious start to my day. I would have been frustrated and angry! But, I didn’t go there! That was the miracle 🙂

As I reflect back on where I am today versus where I was several years ago it is easy to see how far I’ve come. So the question I’m sure at least a few of you are asking is, ‘How did you get to where you are today’. The answer is by practicing being compassionate and really paying attention to my self-talk. I’ve been using something I call ‘ace-ing compassion‘. Here is how it works…

  • Awareness – I believe this is alway the first step if. It’s a simple truth that you can’t change something you aren’t aware of, so listen to yourself. Pay attention to the thoughts that were present before you reacted. Learn to see your reactions as gifts that can teach you more about yourself. I believe that deeply knowing yourself is the key to your personal evolution.

You saw in my story above that before I started practicing being compassionate that my thoughts were all very critical – both of myself as well as of my daughter.

  • Curiosity – Once you are aware of the thoughts you are thinking, get curious about them. Curiosity and wonder are beautiful lenses to look at life through because they take out judgement. Ask empowering questions about your thoughts like, “Is that thought true?”, “Can I absolutely know that’s true?”, “Could there be another way to look at this situation?”, etc.

Once I looked at the mug situation with curiosity, what I saw was that I actually believe I am a pretty coordinated person and not overly clumsy. The mug was slippery from the soap and I really believe it was just an accident. And, the truth about my daughter is that I know she loves me deeply, and blaming her would not help the situation.

  • Empathy – The final step is to turn to empathy, both for the part of yourself you were criticizing as well as anyone you were blaming. For yourself, you want to practice talking to yourself like you would talk to someone you love and for anyone you might be blaming, I encourage you to look for a more generous assumption.

In my case, here is how I shifted my self-talk to be more compassionate and more in line with how I would talk to someone I love… “Don’t be so hard on yourself…It was an accident! And, it’s just a mug that can easily be replaced. Please don’t worry about it.” Then I shifted my inner dialog around my daughter. Instead of blaming or criticizing her, I chose to remind myself that I know she loves me…that sometimes I too leave dishes in the sink usually because I’m just so tired by the time I’m making my way to bed that it feels easier and, when I really think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually told her that this is something that is important to me.

One of my guiding life principles is this…”Be the change you wish to see in the world”. A quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. I believe we can all agree that more compassion in the world would be a wonderful thing. So if you are like me and would like to expand compassion in your life, I hope you will consider joining me and the Wholistic Woman community on April 25th in Frederick, Maryland.  I will be leading a workshop title ‘Be Compassionate’ where we will be exploring this topic. If you’d like more information, please click here.

In the meantime, I love hearing from you! If you start experimenting with the ‘ACE-ing compassion’ process, please let me know what you think. Talking to yourself like you would talk to your best friend or someone you love is such a simple concept but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Please share your successes as well as your struggles. We all learn from one another. You just might be the teacher someone is waiting to hear from 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you look for ways to bring more compassion in to you life today and in the days ahead. ~ Laura

Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at or feel free to visit her website

Friendships and Connection

Friendships and Connection

“Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them.” – Anna Taylor

What does friendship mean to you? When you think of connection, what comes to mind first?

We all have a yearning, on some level, to connect with others. We endeavor to build friendships and create our own circles of people we know, like, and trust. Creating these communities not only staves off loneliness and sadness, but exposes us to new ideas, builds a support network, and allows us to fulfill an inner drive to bond with others in varying degrees.

Who’s in your circle? Who supports you, and who do you connect with or support?

Take a moment and think about your own friendship circles. You likely have one group of friends with whom you are extremely close, followed by a second circle of good friends but not friends who are like family, followed by acquaintances, followed by business connections… the list could go on and on. When you pause to examine your connections, you probably have more acquaintances and casual connections than good friends or best friends, but you have more people in your network than you might initially think.

Some of my most valuable connections have been with the amazing women I’ve met over the years. My two closest friends are incredible. I’ve known both of them now for more than a decade, and over that time, our friendships have evolved to allow for us to grow individually. Michelle was my college roommate and at first, I wasn’t sure she and I would work out very well – she was loud and blunt, whereas I was quiet and shy. Yet somehow, we each rubbed off on the other, so I tempered her while some of her forthrightness seeped over to me. We grew together and changed each other for the better.

Casey and I are also very much the introvert/extrovert pair. We met in college, but despite our personality differences, we hit it off right away. I was still coming out of my shy shell at the time, whereas she was outgoing and social. She and I have seen each other through the worst life can throw at us, and we’ve come through the fire to the other side. We didn’t so much change each other over the years as we have supported and stood by each other.

I know I am not the same person I was a decade ago, but neither are these two friends – yet my friendships with them are stronger than ever, even accounting for three states being in the way with one of them.

Women supporting women goes beyond personal friendships as well. While writing this blog, I realized that all my mentors in business are women, which is more of a happy accident than an intentional occurrence. I certainly would not be where I am without their guidance and support, and over the last few years, these connections have blossomed from solely business relationships and more into the realm of friendships. I know I can go to these women when I have a problem to ask for advice, and we share our failures and successes with each other.

A strong community of women supporting women is one which inspires, supports, and transforms. Over the last weekend when I attended the Be Creative retreat, I realized my personal community had expanded again. Women who I had just met that day were welcoming and kind, and as a group we cheered successes, embraced our faults, and assisted through mistakes.


Today’s blog is written by one of our alliance partners, Kira Tregoning. Kira is the owner and founder of Maia Media Management, a local marketing business. She offers social media management, consultations, and trainings, as well as video services, proofreading, editing, and manuscript critique services. Kira is also a published author with two fantasy novels available on Amazon and more on the way. Learn more about her at

Intuitive Painting

Intuitive Painting

Intuitive Painting

What exactly is that? Who came up with that?

Well nobody came up with it. It exists since human mankind. Remember those cave drawings? Aren’t they fascinating? Humans have always been driven to be creative. It’s part of who we are.

We are all born creative geniuses. The educational system dumbs us down, according to the results of a test developed by Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman to measure the creative potential of NASA scientists. The test was very successful but the question where creativity comes from remained. They subsequently used the test for school children. They tested 1,600 children between the ages of 4 and 5. The tests looked at the ability to come up with new and innovative ideas to problems.

The results shocked them: 98% fell into the genius category of imagination. Wow! The same kids were tested again five years later and only 30% fell into the same category. At age 15, it was only 12%, and as for adults… How much are we in touch with our creative thinking after years of schooling? Only 2%.

What happened? Years of schooling, that’s what happened. Learning how to pick A, B, or C to pass test. How creative is that? Right … not very much.

It’s safe to say that most of us adults have lost our creative touch. We don’t dance, sing, draw, paint, or sit around the campfire telling stories anymore. We are trained to follow rules and work hard. As an art instructor, I hear often from my adult students that they stopped painting when they were six years old. Around that age we start to judge and compare ourselves to others and when a teacher tells us that the kid sitting next to us made this wonderful painting and all the other classmates think so too, we look at our own painting and come to the conclusion that it’s not good. Not good enough. And that we definitely don’t fall into the category of the anointed ones oozing with talent, so the notion of being creative is abandoned.

It took the joy away. And sheer joy helps us to get into deep play, as Martha Beck calls it. It’s about losing yourself, forgetting about time and being a child again. That’s how we learn. We learn new skills. We learn how to deal with what’s in front of us and afterwards we feel accomplished. We all have seen puppies and kittens play. We love those. How many hits do those YouTube videos get when there is a puppy chasing its tail? So funny and charming.

It’s not all play for that puppy though. Being playful is preparing it for real life, for dangers, how to get food and all those things it needs to know. The same goes for us humans. We come into the world and have to learn all those complicated skills. We play, we are being silly, and we don’t care. People even encourage us with gestures, big smiles and telling us how great we are. Until …. yes until our sixth birthday or thereabout. That’s when we start to compare ourselves to others and start questioning our actions. We stop being silly—most of us, anyway. We stop wondering and if our parents tell us we ask too many questions, we stop that too.

Over the years, we lose our sense of wonder. We lose ourselves and many of us feel down and out. We have lost ourselves. Intuitive Painting will get you back in touch with your playfulness. Deep play is what we are going to do in the Intuitive Painting session.

You will get all the freedom you need to unlock your creativity using a brush, your fingers or a paper towel. Just play and have fun. It cleanses your mind like meditating. The only instruction you get is:

Get in touch with your inner child and ENJOY!!

Come experience intuitive painting with us at the Be Creative retreat at the beautiful Turf Valley Resort on March 3! Register soon – we’re getting very close to the event and we would love to see you there!


Today’s author: Elisabeth Vismans is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), an Award-Winning Artist, and founder of Quality Within, helping women in transition to find their life purpose. She developed a unique coaching program using the visual language as an extra modality. She is also an Art Instructor and conducts painting and coaching workshops. Learn more about Elisabeth at her website:, or from her Facebook page.